I say this with great certainty: few things in this life are worse than going to the dentist. Now, much of this sentiment is my privilege speaking, seeing that I actually have the opportunity and ability to see a dentist, however and nevertheless, this moment is one which I consider to be dreadful and terrifying. Insert dentist visit here. I had held out for too long, and just as my health insurance was soon to expire, I decided that three years since my last visit to the oral-hells was long enough. In the brief 45-minute experience, I walked out of that appointment with ten – yes, I repeat, 10! – cavities and an alleged need for a root canal.
This probably goes without saying, however I am just going to put it out there: this is why I avoided the dentist. I didn’t need somebody reminding me that my face was rotting, nor did I need to have my mouth as wide as they were stretching. Though sore, I walked out of that appointment with my chin up, and my cavities unfilled (unfilled, mostly because there was not enough time to get them all filled while still on my insurance – I’m responsible, and obviously would have filled them all if given the chance…I digress, and had one filled to make me feel better about myself). This was a brutal reminder that I am actually not as healthy as I claim to be. Sure, the Fitbit has worked wonders, however in the past month or so, it has really only existed as a counterbalance to Sonic trips and bags (yes, plural) of candy. I’m practically thirteen again. Let’s pause there for a moment.
I was reading my friend’s blog last night, and just as I was nearing the middle of dinner (which, this particular evening, dinner consisted of a giant bag of cheddar-cheese popcorn – don’t judge me, times are tough), it hit me that the reason I loathe going to the dentist and other health-related realities, is because I’m actually not doing anything to maintain an advancing health – I am merely just retaining the status quo. Fitting, this particular post I was reading was written by one of my best friends, and titled, “Busy? Plan B is Sometimes Ok…” His entire blog is actually about health and wellness, and being an active and healthy human being. Comical that I read this blog, right? Some might assert I read each post only because the Endurance Doctor is actually one of my very best friends, while others would agree with me in saying, I actually do read it because I find his posts to be interesting and his tips to be relevant and helpful. I digress.
As I am reading through his latest post about finding health during “crunch times,” I paused and realized he was my benefactor and I was his cause. Put the popcorn down, Michael. Good point. Now, time to dive into this newly found knowledge/advice/call-out.
To start, the Endurance Doctor asserts I should be getting around 8-hours of sleep per night. The last time I got 8-hours of sleep in one setting was around 2006. There was this time in college where I was in bed by 10PM and sleeping a solid 9-10 hours per night. I was convinced I had mono, but my doctor just said I had, “an over-active mind.” What the hell does that even mean? Moving forward. Next, the Endurance Doctor (yes, I could just call him “Blake,” however I enjoy using his full credentials, just as I would hope you are referring to me as, “Writer-Activist-Once-Pooped-His-Pants-Goodman,” from here on out) covers what I like to summarize as, “Eat less, move more” (circa Rose O’Donnell, early 2000s). He frames this as, “Avoid Excess Carbs,” and, “Increase Baseline Activity,” however I interpret this suggestion as, “Take the stairs, don’t be a cow and have fifty pieces of cheesecake, model the way, buy a Fitbit, blah blah,” etc.
The final two phases of this, get-your-life-together-you-unhealthy-monster, message, and quite possibly the most impacting of them all, are, “Plan Ahead,” and, “Listen to Your Body.” Now, I will tell you this… I never miss a meal, and I am certain I know when my body is hungry. “Hangry,” is real, people. And, in all seriousness, I have found my most unhealthy of times (sans the aforementioned cavity-sneak-attack) to be when I stopped paying attention to what my body was telling me. Furthermore, I have found that planning out an exercise or walk with a friend is so much better than having to drag your lazy ass off the couch and go for a run/walk/skip/prance – I speak this from personal experience. Preparing to leave the county, and having my teeth checked, blood drawn, and body maneuvered (two coughs to the left, please) has been somewhat of a wakeup call. Plain and simple, we only get one body.
How often do we actually listen to our body, our heart, our mind? And not just in the physical sense, how often are we truly in touch with what is happening to or around us? Be in sync with your body, your mind. Be honest with yourself about what you (and your body) need. Then, be a provider to your self. Nurture. Impact. Soothe. And finally…go to the dentist. Trust me, go to the dentist.